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Background: HIV prevalence is relatively high among youths in Greece with roughly 25% of new diagnoses concerning people aged 15-29 years (HCDCP, 2017). However, data on youths'' knowledge of HIV/AIDS and attitudes towards PLWHA are lacking and no respective educational/prevention programs have been consistently implemented in Greece, nor tested for their effectiveness.
On September 2017, the NGO Centre for Life commenced the first nationwide, school-based HIV education program, authorized by the Greek Ministry of Education and scientifically edited by the National School of Public Health, aiming at raising high-school students'' awareness of HIV/AIDS, promoting safe sexual behavior and reducing HIV-related stigma. 36,486 students have benefited until January 2018 (70,000 expected by May 2018 / 40% of the total population). The program applies a theory-driven logic model outlying its target variables and key interventions (Graph 1).
Methods: Adaptations of the HIV Knowledge Questionnaire (Carey & Schroder, 2002) and the HIV Stigma Scale (Visser et al., 2008) are used to assess baseline knowledge of HIV/AIDS and attitudes towards PLWHA in a stratified national sample of approximately 3,500 students, as well as the post-intervention effect on these variables in a subgroup of 1,200 students. Descriptive statistics and variance analysis are the main procedures used for data analysis. This is an ongoing study, the full dataset being expected by May 2018.
Results: Peers (73.8%) and the internet (56.1%) are the most common sources of students'' information on sexuality issues, unlike school (17.7%), while 71.3% of students are unsatisfied from previous sexual education received by school. Results suggest a moderate baseline level of students'' knowledge about HIV/AIDS (M=4.93/10, SD=2.54) and no significant gender difference, as well as relatively positive attitudes towards PLWH (M=7.29/10, SD=1.45) (n1=1,246 [49.3% females]), with male students being more negatively biased towards PLWHA (r=.29). The intervention had significant (ps< .001) and large effects on both knowledge (r=.92) and attitudes (r=.83) (n2= 548 [58.2% females], again with a significant gender x attitudes interaction (p=.003, r=.16).
Conclusions: Our findings clearly show the need for systematically applying sexual education programs within the school setting and that even brief interventions can induce large positive changes if certain conditions are met.


Graph 1. Logic model developed for the HIV prevention and stigma reduction program
[Graph 1. Logic model developed for the HIV prevention and stigma reduction program]

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